We all know that people are lazy and many good things can come from it.
Bill Gates always says:
“Give the hardest tasks to the laziest people and they will come up with an easy solution”.
But using templates does not really fall in the category of being lazy. Probably even the contrary, because it means, you really want to understand every aspect of the production process - and taking a look at someone else’s work can definitely help here!
If you want to get better, using templates or preset is one of the best shortcuts you can take. But only, if you take a look behind the sound and the pretty surface, to learn how it was all put together.
You want to know how? Here are 11 reasons why you should use templates!
1. You learn where to start
“Vacansopapurosophobia” also known as “the fear of a blank page” or in our case a blank project is widely spread among all kinds of creatives. You want to start your next project, but have absolutely no inspiration? If you know the sound you want to go for, you are just a few clicks away from a template as a good starting point. Or did you never do a project from scratch? A template will show you where you need to go - without doing all the mistakes in a mind numbing and year long process. Be smart - take the short cut.
2. You learn how to arrange
Coming up with random ideas is not a big problem, but many users tell us, that arranging them to a complete song, is! You need to get out of your 8 bar loop - but how?
Consulting an experienced producer via his/her template can solve this riddle for you. A template can show you the different parts you need, to make a song work in your genre. You can study all transitions, see where automations set in or when key elements need to be muted to raise tension.
3. You learn how to compose
Taking a look at a template lets you see a fully composed song with chord progression(s) and fitting melody in detail. You can retrace all clips or tracks in your pace and immediately start playing around with them, to create your own song. Coming up with chords or even progressions can be a threat in the beginning, but a template can help you to get started. You can start modulating the chords to your liking, without having too much knowledge of the theory behind it. Still you see and hear them in their natural habitat of a song and can try to understand, what makes a progression work and what is just copied chords.
4. You can take an intimate look inside a project
Usually no one lets you sneak in their “piece of art”, but it is a craft after all and creativity is something you can train and learn. By looking behind the curtain with the right mindset, you can learn more, than by watching 100 videos. It’s like Confucius said: “do it and you will understand”. The mindset we are talking of here is, that you do not just want to rip off the stems or tracks, but to be willing and eager to learn. Then, producing music will come to you, son!
5. You learn which effect causes which result
You throw reverb and delay on every track? In a good template you can see how it is done properly. Now mess up the settings to hear how crucial a deep understanding of compression or EQing really is. Undo the changes and try to understand the use of effects in context. A template can help you immensely, to figure out how to achieve a sonic mix. Dare to listen to the tracks solo? You will be surprised, how bad many of them will sound ripped out of context. Now try to retrace and comprehend, why they sound good in the mix and use that in your own productions.
6. You learn sound designing
After you have watched multiple YouTube videos on Serum or Massive, it is finally time to get your hands on sound design in one or more synths yourself! A template is a perfect starting point for that, because the sound already fits the project and overall sound. You can investigate, why which OSC or LFO does exactly what it does and see which effects are needed to spread them in the stereo picture or to make them fatter. You can extract the knowledge of many years in a sitting of a few hours or even only minutes. Use your time wisely!
YouTube Tutorial on Bass Sound Design for Underground Techno
7. You learn basics of mixing
Just like a surgeon, you can operate on a “living song”, to find out everything you want to know. How levels need to be adjusted, how send effects are put to use, how instruments are spread in the panorama, how bass and kick are glued together - all these things are at your fingertips now. We highly suggest to keep some kind of journal to make notes and apply them to your current productions. Only if you put all the revelations or epiphanies to a trial and error use, you can learn how to really do it.
8. You learn organising tracks
Track labelling, naming, coloring - getting ideas in fast can be easy, but keeping track and an overview can be overwhelming, if you do not clean up after yourself. Every good structured template offers you starting points on how to keep a clean project. Set markers on the horizontal sphere to arrange your track and do not exceed a part. Name and color your tracks, groups and return channel in the vertical, to always have an overview. Try setting colors or names, that you reuse in all projects. Once you found colors and names you like, save these settings as default, to only do this work once.
9. You learn basics of mastering
Mastering the mastering process is one of the hardest tasks in music production. With a good template, you can get there faster and take a look at an actually working and supporting mastering chain, that you can transfer to your other projects. Just save it and use it in a similar track.
10. You save time
By beginning with an already working song, you jumpstart your production. Just bring in your own ideas and use the template as a skeleton to hold the flesh of your inspiration and creativity. All ideas are automatically in context and do not have to be carved out of a huge pile of frustration in the beginning. You can use the structure of the template and fill it with your music - you will be astonished, that all these “restrictions” or better recommendations actually help making a good song much faster.
11. You get inspiration
With a good template, there also comes a busload of ideas for sounds, melodies, chords, progression, effects, arrangement or general composition - if you feel stuck again or have the crazy phobia from the beginning of this article, download a cool template you like musically and get started. This is probably the most important advice - get started! No template in the world will get you, where you want to be, if you don´t start. How about right now?
Keywords: how to produce music, how to use templates and project files, better workflow in ableton